백년설 - Baek Nyeon-Seol
유성기로 듣던 불멸의 명가수 - 백년설 편
Having read about the limited range of recorded music and styles that was allowed during Japanese occupation, leading today to the remark that most people in South Korea regard music from the 30s for old people only, I found it a bit disrespectful towards all those talented, gifted and distinctive singers and musicians/combos and therefore I decided to thoroughly investigate what was made possible in those years, not only in Korea but also in Japan and compare this with these scenes elsewhere like in Shanghai, Vietnam etc. from the 30s to the 50s to achieve a more realistic idea. For what concerns the conservative limitations of the scene, Baek Neyon-Seol is a very good example of well-made/sung music within a "limited" range, something that in Japan seemed to have been rather restricted most of the time as well (and whose singers compared to the Korean singers in the beginning sounded at times even more amateurish), its surviving scene of those early eras during the late 70s again at that time became commercially more limited, for both countries. The 50s were mostly more interesting once more, adopting once more a wider range of possibilities and influences. The restriction were more that of the time, as a first definition, limiting a little the adoption of other expressions a bit for the moment. The foundation of all songs on this record are in Trot style, which means that all songs show a comparable sensibility to certain rhythms, melody and repetition of those patterns, which sound slightly Japanese, direct-song expressions entertainment which is at times slightly melancholic but also then still happy-pleasant at the same time. The accompaniment is by a small band with no real rhythm section except here and there a wooden bock rhythm, a small string orchestra section, a reed and flute orchestra section, lead accordion, some guitar or banjo and here and there slide-guitar. Sometimes piano add rhythmic accents, there are jazzy wah-wah trumpets or a violin solo. On the 15th track we have a crying female voice adding some talk response, as if being an expression taken from a movie. A good (fine enough) release but not too exceptional or distinctive in its characteristics.
This CD comes from the 23CD box:
I once heard a phonograph of a great immortal: Baek Nyeon-Seol’s turn. (vol.13) (1996)
1 유랑극단(流浪劇團) / Traveling Troupe (.. 8602)
2 나그네 설움 / Wayfarer's Soul (1939) (.. 8665)
3 한 잔에 한잔 사랑 / Love in a Cup (.. 3001)
4 제3 유랑극단(第三流浪劇團) / Third Traveling Troupe (.. 3002)
5 춘소화월(春宵花月) / Spring Season (.. 3002)
6 꿈꾸는 항구선 / Dreamy Harbor (.. 3005)
7 번지 없는 주막 / Address without Home (???) (1938) (.. 3007)
8 산 팔자(山八字) 물 팔자(八字) / Mt.Oliver (1938) (.. 3007)
9 남포불 역사(歷史) / The Story of Nampobul (.. 3008)
10 마도로스 박(朴) / Maduros Park (.. 5001)
11 천리정처(千里定處) / Cheonrijeong Temple (1942) (OKEH 31090)
12 아주까리 수첩(手帖) / Castor notebook (OKEH 31102)
13 즐거운 상처(傷處) / A pleasant wound (1942) (OKEH 31102)
14 청춘썰매 / Sleding youth (1942) (OKEH 31112)
15 인생가두(街頭) / Streetlife (1943) (OKEH 31172)
16 부모이별(父母離別) / Parental Separation (1943) (OKEH 31172)
17 누님의 사랑 / Sister's Love (1942) (OKEH 31139)
* 18 눈물의 백년화(百年花) / Hundred Years of Tears (1942)
Tracks with * I consider essential listens or classics, also very suitable for western radioshow airplay. Tracks that are only underlined, without *, might be considered interesting tracks as well, for various reasons.
(no real favorites here, looking back now, I guess this approach could even become a bit boring). Track 18 I will still take as an exception which represents the singer very well in its qualities, plus it is featuring creative ideas in the arrangements too.
백년설 - 오리지날 힛송 총결산집
Baek Nyeon-Seol (="Hundred Years Old")-Original Song Collection
If I put Baek’s name in Google Translate, I get the translation of it into “100 year old.” Baek’s singing, as I hear it on the first track, is more or less that as well. The singing on “wayfarer” has a lots of vibrations. Strangely enough, for me that works pretty well and with that specific trot song, it (already) fits perfectly: I even like that just the way it is. Much more than in other countries, in South-Korea, elders are respected and are welcome to perform as long as they like, while in my country, elder people would easily become be victims of laughter or become disrespected for even trying. The songs and music style still lend itself to certain approaches. Compared to earlier recordings that are cheery, only then I can hear that it truly is already a different voice, although it could just have been a deliberate specific approach as well. "복지만리" after that is such a cheerful song, arranged with brass, but also with an adapted changed-over-time’s voice. All other songs are nicely arranged in trot style from 50s-70s style origin. It quickly becomes clear this album is the reissue of the 1973 album and with recording of classic songs. For this singer, weirdly enough, I think I still preferred this later album compared to the earlier compilation in which its let's still say somewhat strange to western ears qualities are further/more developed. The band plays nicely acoustic and electric picking guitar, accordion, flutes and such, there are also a few extra efforts of composed string arrangements added as well. I don't regret a moment adding this album to my collection.
* 1 나그네 설음 / Wayfarer
2 복지만리 / ?
3 두견화 사랑 / Love (?)
4 산팔자 물팔자 / Mountain lion
5 눈물의 수박등 / Bucket of tears
6 대지의 항구 / Earth port
7 번지없는 주막 / ?
8 일자일루 / Date (?)
9 남포불 역사 / Story of Nampobul
10 알성급제 / Star ??
-- another reissue of the same album:
나그네 설움 / 대지의 항구 CD Oasis Records 2016.06.10 / 오아시스레코드
Original LP is from 16/09/1973
Some tracks can also be found here; the newly listed tracks I will review:
유성기로 듣던 가요사 / Singers I heard from the Meteor Period (1925~1945) [Disc 5]
5 유랑극단(流浪劇團) / Traveling Troupe (1938)
유성기로 듣던 가요사 / Singers I heard from the Meteor Period (1925~1945) [Disc 6]
* 17 일자 일루 / Date (1939)
18 북방(北邦) 여로(旅路) / Northern Yeo-ro (1939)
A track listed nowhere else is this trot track, "Date" for which the singer's voice sounds perfectly made. The rhythmical the is rather frolic with a banjo-like swing. The accordion and some violin plays the main tune. The solos are arranged with the several instruments of a small combo. Also the B-side is not listed elsewhere. Also this trot track has a joyful tone and nice small arrangements by the accompanying band.
유성기로 듣던 가요사 / Singers I heard from the Meteor Period (1925~1945) [Disc 8]
9 번지(番地) 없는 주막(酒幕) / Adress without home (?) (1940)
10 나그네 설움 / Wayfarer (1940)
* 14 눈물의 수박등(燈) / Watermelon lantern of tears (1940)
15 비오는 해관(海關) / Rainy Sea Hall (1940)
The first two tracks were listed before. "Watermelon Lantern - " or "Bucket full of Tears" has some slide guitar and whistling, is a gentle, fresh trot song in which these instruments and the attractive smooth arrangements of a rowing rhythm and its perfectly fit singing give such a mainstream styled song something more vivid and attractive. Trot styled "Rainy Sea Hall" has a sweet hum along rhythm and fit banjo accents for it.
유성기로 듣던 가요사 / Singers I heard from the Meteor Period (1925~1945) [Disc 9]
6 만포선 길손 / Manpoline Gilson (1941)
7 석유등 길손 / Oil lamp (1941)
8 복지만리 / Fugu (1941)
14 고향길 부모길 / Hometown Parent Road (1941)
15 대지의 항구 / Earth port (1941)
The first track is not listed on any of the previous releases I have mentioned before. It is a pleasant mainstream trot arranged with a foundation of accordion and banjo (flute, rhythmic bass accents,..). "Oil Lamp" is arranged in a more filmic way with more attention to the instrumental work-out. "Fugu" is a more happy marching song in trot style, also with rather filmic or better worked out arrangements. Also the last two tracks are not found on any of the previously mentioned compilations. The first track is a pleasant, nicely arranged trot track with walking rhythm. The singer's voice makes a relative common song not a dull experience but add something vividness in it. In a way it becomes a song that works like a filmic fragment in which I sense someone being happy returning to his beloved home.
유성기로 듣던 가요사 / Singers I heard from the Meteor Period (1925~1945) [Disc 10]
* 8 경기 나그네 / Game wayfarer (1942)
9 고향설 / Hometown (1942)
14 고향 소식 / News from my hometown (1943)
16 정든 땅 / Soft ground (1943)
17 일쌍 급제 / Just a couple of of salaries (1943)
The first track has an attractive happy walking rhythm and is a very pleasant track for the singing, melody and colorful rhythmical worked out arrangements. "Hometown" is a slightly nostalgic, still bright sounding trot song with further worked out arrangements. "News from my hometown" is a more intimate trot song founded upon accordion / acoustic guitar pickings only with a small soft clarinet solo. "Soft ground" has unfortunately bit more background hiss in the recording. The foundation for this trot song is banjo picking and a steady rhythm. The last track, from the same record so in the same quality (hiss) is a mainstream trot song arranged with a bass rhythm and small combo.
Baek Nyeon-Seol graduated from the Agricultural School but he showed also an interest in literature and theatre from his school days onwards. He mostly sang during the 40s and represented this era. He was capable of singing with avibratoy pitch, adedg a folksy flavour to the popular trot songs. In 1941 he had volunteered the army. Even though he was considered the best singer of his time he was excluded to perform as an actor. When he retired in 1963, he became Chairman of the Korea Entertainment Association Planning Division exhibited by the artists association founded between 1961 to 1958. He stopped his entertainment activities while operating the business. He became a Jehovah's Witnesses in 1979, immigrated to Los Angeles, the United States where he lived the last two years of his life.
See also http://ko.wikipedia.org/wiki/백년설
백년설 (白年雪) 은 일제강점기에 주로 활동했던 가수입니다. 본명은 원래 이갑룡(李甲龍)이었지만, 늘 이창민(李昌珉 혹은 李昌民)이라는 이름을 사용하다 결국 1964년에 정식으로 개명했습니다. 1950년대에 작사가로 활동할 때엔 향노(鄕奴)라는 이름으로 활동했습니다. 해방 이전의 작품이 현재 70여곡 가량 확인되고 있습니다. 남인수와 같은 시대에 인기를 누렸습니다. '백년설'이라는 예명 때문에 여자라고 잘못 알고계시는 분도 있는 것 같습니다. 백년설은 동시대의 다른 가수들과는 다르게 특유하게 떠는 창법으로 노래를 불렀습니다. 거의 모든 음을 떨면서 부르는데, 이는 편안하면서도 매력적인 창법이었습니다. 이 특유의 창법 덕분에 높은 인기를 얻었습니다.
생애 Bai nian xue 해방 이후의 백년설.
백년설은 1915년 경상북도 성주에서 태어났습니다. 1922년 성주공립보통학교에 입학했고, 1928년에 졸업했습니다. 1929년 성주농업보통학교에 입학해 1931년에 졸업했습니다. 이후 경성으로 가서 한양부기학교에서 2년간 공부하다가 은행과 신문사에서 잠시 근무했습니다. 1938년에 시험 삼아 녹음한 「유랑극단」이 다음 해인 1939년에 발매되었는데, 생각보다 반응이 좋아서 가수가 되기로 결심을 했습니다. 1941년까지 태평 레코오드사 전속으로 있으면서 「두견화 사랑」, 「눈물의 수박등」, 「복지 만리」, 「대지의 항구」, 「일자 일루」, 「나그네 설움」 등을 불러 당대 최고의 가수가 되었습니다.
해방 이후에는 가수로 활동하는 것보다 사업체 운영과 고아원 운영에 몰두했습니다. 한국전쟁 발발 이후 다시 음반을 내기 시작했었습니다. 그러나 이전보다는 가수 활동이 부진했었습니다. 1963년 7월에 은퇴공연을 하며 공식적으로 가수 생활을 끝냈습니다. 1967년부터 1970년까지 경향신문 일본지사장을 맡아서 근무했었습니다. 1970년 이후 건강이 갑자기 악화되었습니다. 1978년, 자녀들이 있는 미국으로 가서 투병생활을 하다가 1980년 12월 6일에 사망했습니다. 2002년에 대한민국 문화훈장 보관장이 추서되었습니다.
Translation (with help of Google Translate):
Baeknyeonseol (白 年 雪) was a singer who mainly worked during the Japanese occupation. His real name was Lee Gap Ryong, but he always used the name Lee Chang Min (李昌 珉 or 李昌民) and eventually renamed it in 1964. In the 1950s, when he was a lyricist, he was named Hyangno. More than 70 works before the liberation have been confirmed. He was as popular at time as Nam In-soo. The 'Hundred Years' Song he sang with a uniquely floating voice, unlike other contemporary singers. He sang almost all the involved notes, in a relaxing and attractive way of singing. Thanks to his own peculiar technique to do so, he gained high popularity.
The centennial was born in Seongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do, in 1915. In 1922, he entered the Sungju Public School, and graduated in 1928. In 1929, I entered Sungju Agricultural General School and graduated in 1931. Afterwards, I went to Kyungsung and studied for two years at Hanyang Bookkeeping School, where he worked for a while in banks and newspapers. The song recorded in 1938, The Wandering Troupe, was released in 1939, the next year. Until 1941, he became the best singer of the day by calling for `Take Love '', ``Watermelon of Tears (Bucket of Tears)'', ``Welfare Great Wall of China'', ``Port of the Earth'', ` Day Illusion'', and `Nangseum Seol''.
After the liberation, he concentrated on running a business and an orphanage rather than acting as a singer. After the Korean War broke out, he started to record again. But the singer's activities were slower than before. He retired in July 1963 and officially ended his career as a singer. From 1967 to 1970, he served at the Japanese branch of the tendency newspaper. Since 1970, his health suddenly deteriorated. In 1978, he went to the United States with his children and struggled with his health until he died on December 6, 1980. In 2002, the Korea Cultural Merit Medal was issued.